Wolf’s budget proposal is great…and dead on arrival

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Gov. Tom Wolf introduced his 2021-22 budget, and I have to say it is audacious, ambitious and goes a long way to solve the root problems of much of what has plagued Pennsylvania for more than three decades.

It is also, sadly, deader than Elvis.

That says more about Pennsylvania and Republicans in the General Assembly than it does about Wolf. Not that much more has to be said about a group that tried to overthrow a free and fair election and continues aggressive voter suppression efforts.

Wolf’s budget proposal adds lot of long-needed state school aid, money for college students and has COVID relief for businesses among other things.

The money that would go to public schools would allow for a lower property tax rate — a big issue for seniors who generally don’t pay income tax.

But, in terms of politics, it suffers from a fatal flaw: it raises taxes on rich people. Wolf’s plan raises the income tax from 3.07% to 4.49%, but uses a creative “tax forgiveness” plan to cut taxes for the lowest 40% of incomes and no tax hike for about the lowest 67% of taxpayers. Rich people and corporations don’t want to pay their fair share (they think their fair share is “none”) so here we are again, stuck in a third-world state with lousy roads, struggling schools and young people fleeing like the commonwealth hit an iceberg.

But the fat cats — who own the GOP legislature — would have to pay up. Already, Republicans are screaming about an alleged massive tax increase during a pandemic, but conveniently forgetting the fact that it is only on rich folks.

Maybe Wolf gets one or two concessions, but my sense is that this will drag out until — or beyond — the last minute in June. We’ll end up with another “kick it down the road and dig a deeper hole” budget.


I don’t blame Wolf for going big: he makes good arguments.

But we have a bad, unprincipled legislature and have had one for a generation.

And that seems unlikely to change any time soon.


Well, hopefully you enjoyed that short, insurrection-filled respite from election season.

Aside from the county Row Office races kicking off (and municipal and school board races) for Nov. 2021, the races for 2022 are already heating up. Already. Sigh.

Take the U.S. Senate race: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is all but in the race, having launched and exploratory committee and filed federal campaign paperwork this week. As of now, I haven’t heard much about other Democrats running, but I suspect Fetterman, who may have the highest media profile of any Pennsylvania Democrat, will be tough to beat in a primary. 

He has a national fundraising base, strong appeal in Western Pennsylvania with his working-class image, yet he will play well in the educated southeast suburbs, being able to tout a masters degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an MBA from UConn. Those claiming that he’s “too liberal” are living in 1998 — public support for legal marijuana and LGBTQ rights, Fetterman’s big public issues, are polling in the mid to upper 60s and growing pretty rapidly.

Meanwhile a lot of Republicans are said to be eying the race, including West Chester’s William McSwain, who until recently was the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. McSwain and other mainstream candidates (and there could be a half dozen of varying pedigrees) will struggle in the GOP primary, as someone like U.S. Rep. Scott Perry will dominate vote in the center of the state.

Frankly, it’s hard to see anyone not a hard-core Trump person winning the GOP primary — only to get wrecked in the general.

In previous years, Republicans could win statewide primaries depending on suburban vote from metro Philly, Allentown, Pittsburgh and Erie and ignore the middle of the state. But the GOP has bled registration in the educated largely affluent suburbs and added it in the middle of the state.

In short, establishment Republicans will struggle to even compete in the primary — see 2018 — and if there are more than one in the race, forget it.

There’s lot of time, still, so a lot of things will shake out. But even this far out, it seems dubious for any “establishment” Republican (read not bat-crap crazy) to win the nomination.


The error in legal advertisement for the state Constitutional Amendment reopening the window of liability for for those accused of sexually abusing minors years or even decades ago was inexcusable, delaying a referendum by as much as two years.

That Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has resigned over the failure is appropriate. The failure was a failure of management and that falls on Boockvar.

It is good that, for once, the state legislature was able to awaken from its stupor and take action that accomplishes much of what the amendment would have.

With a half dozen amendments floating around — it has to be frustrating for the victims to see this one, maybe the only legitimate one — get bungled by a clerical error.


So…can anyone at the Pennsylvania Department of Health explain why Chester County got zero COVID vaccines this past week?

Granted, COVID vaccines remain in tight supply and likely will for weeks. But none?

Chester County Health has set up a robust and organized system to inoculate residents, but so far has only received 18,700 doses, with 12,207 first doses administered as of Friday and 1,987 second doses administered. The county requested 41,400 to date.

Keep in mind, some 182,000 people in the county have pre registered seeking appointments for their vaccine.

Although something like 2 million Americans got their vaccine yesterday — a daily record — the supply and its uneven distribution remain a crisis.

While it is great that the new Biden Administration is pushing to increase supply, I’m holding my applause until we see the increase in the number of shots in the arms of people here in Chester County.


Enjoy the Super Bowl today — obviously, keeping it to your normal family group. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick former Eagles’ coach Andy Reid to beat out the Bucs’ GOAT (Tom Brady tonight. My pick: Chiefs 34, Bucs 19.

Enjoy — and hopefully the forecast winter storm turns into less of an event than it seems right now. No one needs to spend Super Bowl Sunday shoveling snow.

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